About Us

Women and gender diverse people in every culture have ways of working together to stop violence. We honour these strengths.

Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic offers legal services and representation, trauma-informed counselling and multilingual interpretation to diverse women and gender diverse people who have experienced violence. We cultivate women and gender diverse people’s skills and resilience by fostering their safety, dignity, and equality, and we amplify women and gender diverse people’s voices to create individual and collective change.  At the Clinic, the umbrella term “woman” recognizes that gender is a self-identification that does not necessarily correspond with assigned sex at birth. We recognize the complexity and diversity of gender and aim to be inclusive to people outside and across the gender spectrum.


Since its founding in 1985, the Clinic has assisted more than 100,000 women and gender-diverse survivors of violence through our direct services, advocacy efforts, legal reform, submissions, projects, and programs.


  • Legal help in family, immigration, criminal and sexual assault law
  • Therapeutic counselling, information, and support through group-based and individual counselling programs from compassionate and skilled counsellors, employing diverse and culturally appropriate methodologies
  • Multi-lingual interpretation and translation, including over-the-phone interpretation (access to an interpreter in less than 60 seconds) and video remote interpreting through a Deaf interpreter.

Strategic Priorities

We advocate for law reform and social changes that benefit women and gender diverse people. We also provide professional development opportunities for service providers.

  • Deepen Our Service Impact: Inspiring Expertise in Action
  • Drive Systems Change: Advancing Rights for Women and Gender Diverse People
  • Develop Our Organizational Resilience: Building Leadership and Sustainability

Barbra Teena Schlifer

The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic was created in memory of Barbra Teena Schlifer.

Barbra was an idealistic young lawyer who was murdered in Toronto on the day of her call to the Bar of Ontario, April 11, 1980. She was returning home from celebrating this milestone when she was brutally sexually assaulted and killed in the basement stairwell of her apartment building.

Barbra’s death changed the lives of those who were close to her and they resolved to use her tragedy as a springboard for changing the world. Frances Rappaport and Patricia Ashby, who had once planned to be her law partners, decided to establish a clinic in Barbra’s honour to make the difference that Barbra had hoped to make as a lawyer.

In September 1985, the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic opened its doors at 188 Dupont Street in Toronto.

On April 11 of that same year the Mayor of Toronto, Art Eggleton, proclaimed April 11th Barbra Schlifer Day. It had been five years since her death.

The Clinic currently receives referrals from countless community-based agencies, as well as medical, legal and justice professionals, religious organizations and individuals concerned about violence against women and gender diverse people.

History of the Clinic

Barbra Schlifer’s senseless death sent shock waves across Toronto and the country.

Out of this terrible event, a new dream was born. Barbra’s friends (who were to be her law partners), Frances Rapaport and Patricia Ashby, established a clinic in her honour that would commemorate her life and make the difference that she had hoped she would have as a lawyer.

Four women who became instrumental in opening the doors of the Clinic were Elizabeth Stewart, Jennifer Sunley, Helen LaFountaine, and Mary Bruce Dauphinee. As months grew into years of visioning and planning, these four women never relented, never wavered, and never lost sight of their goal.

On April 11, 1985, five years after Barbra’s death, then Mayor of Toronto, Arthur C. Eggleton proclaimed April 11th “Barbra Schlifer Day,” and in September 1985, the Clinic opened its doors at 188 Dupont Street in Toronto.

Initially, the Clinic provided a unique combination of free legal and counselling services for women who had experienced partner assault, child sexual abuse and sexual assault.  In 1987 an interpreter service for non-English speaking women who had experienced violence was introduced. Since then, the Clinic has added innovative programs and grown in size and significance. In addition, the Clinic has become an expert in a range of gender violence that goes beyond domestic violence, partner assault, and child sexual abuse. Increasingly, we are active in such issues as forced marriage, honour-related violence, and gender persecution from state perpetrators and non-state actors in the international context.

Since February 1995, the Clinic’s major fundraising event has been “A Tribute to Friendship” (The Tribute).  In addition to raising funds, this annual special event helps the Clinic to enhance its public image, increase contact with its supporters, and provide public education.

To see more historical pictures, view our Historical  Photo Album on Facebook.

Mission & Vision


Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic offers trauma-informed legal services and representation, counselling and multilingual interpretation, and drives system transformation to support women and gender diverse people who have experienced violence.

Rooted in the foundations of intersectionality, innovation, and a client-centred approach, we foster the skills and resilience of the people we serve and amplify their voices to create individual and collective change.

Vision Statement

We envision a world where women and gender diverse people live free from violence and discrimination.


Belief Statements


 We believe:
1. Gender-based violence is an act of violence against women and gender diverse people that includes various forms of oppression such as racism, colonialism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and ableism. Rooted in and perpetuating gender inequalities, it results in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering. Gender-based violence may include financial, structural, or institutional abuse, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty,
whether occurring in public or private life.

2. Gender-based violence happens in all cultures. It is an abuse of power, results in inequality, and affects all relationships through the generations.

3. Communities globally have worked and will continue to work together to stop gender-based violence. We honour, value and cultivate the work that has come before us in our commitment to finding sustainable solutions in the present.


    Value Statements

    We value:
    Anti-Oppression, Anti-Racism and Feminism
    We are a trauma-informed, intersectional feminist organization. The concept of intersectionality describes the ways in which systems of inequality based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, age, class and other forms of discrimination “intersect” to create unique dynamics and effects. Our work is guided by the experiences and struggles of underserved, Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities and movements against oppression, sexism, colonialism, racism, ableism, and other forms of discrimination.

    Our work is grounded in empathy and compassion for individuals’ dignity and safety, viewing the world from multiple perspectives with empathy in action. The concept of empathy requires the ability to actively listen, be curious and build relationships without judgment.

    Our work is grounded in a reflective practice that continually examines power imbalances and builds our collective awareness and ability to work towards equitable responses and solutions. The concept of self-awareness is the ability to be reflective of one’s thoughts, emotions and behaviours to allow us to respond compassionately to others.

    Partnerships and Networks
    We work in partnership with local, national and global movements to amplify voices against systemic and structural oppression. We commit to respectful and reciprocal collaborations across many sectors.

    Autonomy and Self-Determination
    We respect and promote individuals’ autonomy to make the choices that are best for them as we support them in their journey to freedom from violence. We centre our services around people’s experiences and decisions.


    Board of Directors

    • Anna Matas, Chairperson
    • Elaine Goulbourne, Vice-Chairperson
    • Alena Thouin, Secretary
    • Anju Kukreja, Treasurer

    Members At Large

    • Jackie Burns
    • Angela Chaisson
    • Mel Hogg
    • Mary Jackson
    • Rosemarie Juginovic
    • Sundeep Sandhu
    • Bianca Thomas
    • Hilda Wong
    • Saba Zia

    Annual Reports

    Our annual reports allow us to share what we are doing and the difference our work has in the lives of the women and gender diverse people who come to us for assistance.

    2022-2023 Annual Report

    2022-2023 Audited Financial Statements

    2023-2026 Strategic Plan

    In addition, our financial reports demonstrate the most responsible way we use the money given to us to do our work. None of what we do, and hope to do, would be possible without the resources provided by people like you. Our work is far greater than what we can include in any report.

    We are committed to transparency.  For more detailed information on how we use the funds you generously donate, please either view our Audited Financial Statements below or visit our page on the Canada Revenue Agency site.




    Annual Report | Financial Statements


    Annual Report | Financial Statements


    Annual Report | Financial Statements


    Annual Report | Financial Statements


    Annual Report | Financial Statements


    Annual Report | Financial Statements


    Annual Report | Financial Statements


    Annual Report | Financial Statements


    Annual Report | Financial Statements


    Annual Report | Financial Statements


    Annual Report | Financial Statements


    Annual Report | Financial Statements

    Organizational Performance

    Learn more about the Clinic’s operations, our numbers and objectives here

    United Nations

    The Clinic is an Economic & Social Council-accredited organization in consultation with the United Nations. Through this designation, the Clinic participates in international events that advance social justice with a focus on gender.

    We Need Your Support

    Your support is important to the work we do today and every day.